The Rhinelander High School girls' basketball team and head Coach Ryan Clark would earn their second straight Great Northern Conference title on Tuesday night with a 66-55 win at Lakeland. The Hodags' defense locked down the Thunderbirds top two players and used a double-double from senior Cynthia Beavers to move to 10-0 in the GNC and clench another GNC crown.
Freshman Julianna Ouimette and senior Abby Parris came into the contest, averaging a combined 38.3 points per contest. The Hodags would play a triangle and two defense and would hold Parris and Ouimette to 15 points combined. Sophomore Megan Brown and junior Ella Schiek would take on the defensive rolls to shut down Lakeland's top two scorers. The Thunderbirds were also without starter Camille Quade.
Rhinelander came out slow and quickly fell behind 9-2, but would claw their way back and finished the first half strong and with a solid final 18 minutes would push ahead and recorded the 11-point victory. Joeli Koehler opend the contest and scored on an offensive rebound and put back. And Ouimette had a drive to the hoop and pair of free throws and Lakeland's Amaya White scored inside to put them up 9-2.
The Hodags would score seven unanswered points which included a pair of transition buckets from junior Rebecca Lawrence and senior Kenedy Van Zile and a triple from Beavers. From there it was a close battle until halftime. Rhinelander gradually would outscore Lakeland 12-6 in the final nine minutes including a 6-0 run to close the half and take a 30-27 lead.
Koehler scored inside followed by a triple from White that gave lakeland a 36-35 lead but that's when Beavers turned up the heat for the Hodags where they went on a 17-1 run and never looked back. Lawrence had a baseline drive and dish to Beavers who scored inside. The next possession Beavers hit a three followed by a Lawrence transition basket. Beavers would add a pair of free throws, a drive to the rim, and another triple to put RHS up 52-37. Beavers would score 14 of the Hodags points on the run as well.
Rhinelander went 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final minute off of Lakeland fouls to not only secure the win, but lock up their second conference championship. Beavers had the game-high of 28 points and added 12 rebounds. Van Zile and Lawrence also recorded double-digit points in the win.
Koehler led Lakeland with 23 points and Amaya White recorded 17 points, which was about seven points more than her average. Ouimette chipped in 14 points and Parris only score one free throw in the second half.
Rhinelander is now 10-0 in the GNC and will look to cap off another undefeated conference season. The Hodags are also looking ahead to playoffs and are in hopes of earning a No. 2 seed where they would receive two home playoff games. RHS will host Antigo on Friday night at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium with tip-off set for 6:00PM as part of a girls'/boys' doubleheader.